A Whisper in the Noise – Through the Ides of March

A Whisper in the Noise
Through the Ides of March

The key word on Through the Ides of March is haunting. Cello, piano, horns, and electric samples are used to convey the mood of this album, and studio guru and household word Steve Albini on the boards perfects it. And yet it’s the talented musicians from Minneapolis who turn this album from an example of cold, moody dirges to something rich, lovely, luscious, and deeply haunting.
Lead singer/songwriter West Thordson’s voice reminds me of Peter Gabriel, yet the similarities are better drawn to Gabriel’s intense Last Temptation of Christ soundtrack than something like “Big Time.” Backed by gorgeous strings, moody piano, and lush orchestration, the band falls somewhere between Godspeed You Black Emperor and Joy Division, a mix of 80’s moody keyboard pop and modern orchestrated brilliance.
The album opens innocently enough, with “The Wall of You” a soft, almost slow-core pop song, teasing you with a sort of accessibility that their moody nature will devastate in mere moments, as “Silence” is all about a haunting cello, teasing strings, light piano, and Thordson’s goth-like vocals. You can practically feel the band descending to the gates of hell to bring you this one. The use of samples and keyboards provide a subtle yet stark background to the dark “Seeing You,” which rides ominous beats and contrastingly lush strings, until the song reaches something of a sudden climax part-way through, taking a much more intense and up-tempo turn that could be the backing music to a climactic murder movie. “The Song You Hate” is darker yet more up-beat, taking on a slightly gothic rock feel, and it lets Thordson brood his strongest. Again that moody cello provides the stark feel on “In the Dark,” compounded by eerie electronics and a haunting vocal approach, making this the most terrifying track on the release.
Despite the band’s dark and brooding nature, there are moments here that can be described as nothing more than sheer beauty. The lovely, almost achingly desperate “Anymore” is almost enough to bring tears to the eye, and “A Child,” the band’s best song, is undeniably sweet and moving. It also combines the older sounds (piano, strings) with the newer (electronic beats), and here Thordson’s voice sounds absolutely perfect. “An Autumn’s Song” has the chilling yet beautiful feel of autumn yet given an electronic sheen for the mood of a song on Air’s Virgin Suicides album. The six-minute closer, “Last Night” bridges the gap between lovely mood and more eerie rock quality, creating the perfect end point.
It would be absolutely a crime if A Whisper in the Noise labors any longer outside of the public eye. If Through the Ides of March is not in your hands soon, you’ll be missing out on one of the most intriguing debuts I’ve yet to hear. It only took one listen to one of this band’s songs to convince me I needed this album. And although not as devastatingly dark as I first imagined, it’s a haunting yet beautiful affair that verges on brilliance.